Zoran Ristanovic

Contact information:
Name: Dr Zoran Ristanovic
Section: Biological and Molecular Physics
Group: Molecular Nano-Optics and Spins
Email: Ristanovic@physics.leidenuniv.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 5676
Fax: +31 (0)71 527 5936
Location: HL, room 805

Address :
Leiden Institute of Physics
Leiden University
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden

Postal address
P.O. Box 9504


Current Research Topic – Organic Quantum Integrated Devices 

Table of Content Figure in ACS Nano 2020. Artistic impression of single-molecule frequency tuning on individual nanocrystals of DBT in anthracene

Cover Feature of ChemPhysChem



Our main research project is optical detection of single electrons using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy. The project is the part of a large EU initiative for quantum technologies (QuantERa). In a multidisciplinary consortium of seven European research institutions (ORQUID), we are working on the integration of organic molecules into quantum devices that will interface photons, electrons and phonons. Our aim in this project is to detect single electrons optically, by means of the linear Stark effect (i.e., shift of optical transition energy in electric field).

Recently, in QuantERa collaboration with colleagues from Florence (C. Toninelli) we have shown that single-molecule fluorescence emission can be tuned optically by simple means of laser-induced charge separation in molecular crystals. The effect has been demonstrated on 3 different types of molecular crystals.

Furthermore, our cryogenic team in collaboration with B. Kozankiewicz and I. Deperasinska (IFPAN, Warsaw) has developed fluorescent crystals that exhibit large and linear Stark shift in the electric field. This molecular probe will be used to optically detect individual quanta of charges in specially designed single-electron transistor devices based on Coulomb blockade.

Apart from the single-electron sensing, we are developing new fluorescent emitters for low-temperature fluorescence spectroscopy.

My Research Interests

I am a physical chemist by training, holding a PhD in inorganic chemistry and catalysis. My research interests are in the field of applied molecular spectroscopy and advanced optical characterization of functional materials, such as fluorescent molecular crystals and catalyst materials. I specialize in single-molecule fluorescence micro-spectroscopy (both at room and low temperatures), but I am also interested in other optical, X-ray and infrared spectroscopic approaches. My future research interests are directed toward using and developing optical and micro-spectroscopic approaches to study functional materials, preferably at the single-particle and single-molecule level.

Work Experience

2017 (Oct) – now, Postdoctoral Fellow, Huygens-Kamerlingh Onnes Lab, Leiden Institute of Physics

Optical detection of single electrons, under supervision of prof. Michel Orrit

2016 – 2017, Postdoctoral Fellow, Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis, Utrecht University

Advanced spectroscopic characterization and synthesis of metal-organic framework thin films, under supervision of prof. Bert Weckhuysen

2010 – 2016, PhD Research Assistant, Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis, Utrecht University

Dissertation title: Zeolite Chemistry Studied at the Level of Single Particles, Molecules and Atoms, under supervision of prof. Bert Weckhuysen

2004 – 2009, MSc in Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade, Serbia

Visiting Scholar

2012:  Stanford University, US, 4 months, 2012, visiting scholar at the SUNCAT Center for Science and Catalysis (group of prof. Jens Norskov) and SSRL synchrotron facility

2011-2012: KU Leuven, Belgium, 3 months (2011-2012), single-molecule fluorescence research in the group of prof. Johan Hofkens and prof. Maarten Roeffaers

2008: IAESTE program at the Technical University of Clausthal, Germany, 3 months, 2008, Electrochemical corrosion of aluminium alloys in chloride solutions, group of prof. Oliver Schneider

Synchrotron Research Abroad 

2010 – 2016, conducted X-ray science on more than 15 occasions and within the scope of several catalysis-related projects. Worked at several synchrotron radiation facilities: SSRL/SLAC (Stanford University), ESRF (Grenoble), DESY (Hamburg), SOLEIL (Paris), SLS (Villigen), DIAMOND Light Source (Oxfordshire)


2017: Invitation to attend the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetinglink

2016: Young Scientist Award at the International Congress on Catalysis, Beijing, China

2010: Award of The University of Belgrade for the best diploma thesis in natural sciences, “DFT study of hydrogen adsorption on (111) FCC transition metal surfaces

2010: Kostic Foundation for Chemical Sciences award for the Best Diploma and Master Thesis in chemical sciences on Serbian Universities


2018-2019: Molecular Physics course, teaching assistant, Leiden University

2010-2014: Vibrational Spectroscopy course, teaching assistant, Utrecht University

2004-2009: Junior associate at Petnica Science Center, Serbia, teaching chemistry to talented high school students.

PhD work: Zeolite Chemistry and Catalysis

During my PhD, I developed on novel experimental methods to study zeolite chemistry at the level of single particles, molecules and atoms. Zeolites are the workhorses of modern oil refining and petrochemical industry, but the methods to study their chemical reactivity at the nanoscale are scarce. This work resulted in a total of 6 first-authored papers reporting state-of-the-art experimental studies of zeolite structure and reactivity. I employed two fluorescence probe reactions to study zeolite chemistry at the single-particle/single-molecule level, including:

  • quantitative super-resolution imaging of zeolite reactivity on industrially relevant steamed zeolite crystals (linkthe cover and spotlights of JACS, issue 20, 2015, media coverage)
  • the first single-molecule fluorescence experiment on an industrial real-life (fluid catalytic cracking) catalyst (link)
  • the first demonstration of the substituent and solvent effects on proton-transfer rates at the single-turnover level (link)
  • the first experimental single-molecule demonstration of a reversible and site-dependent proton transfer in zeolites(link)
  • the first X-ray crystallographic (link) and X-ray-excited luminescence reactivity imaging (link) of a single zeolite crystal
  • in addition, I have co-authored several papers, including the studies of single-molecule diffusion in real-life FCC  particles, combined TEM/single-molecule fluorescence microscopy of FCC particles, and atom-probe tomography of zeolite crystals

My PhD thesis “Zeolite Chemistry Studied at the Level of Single Particles, Molecules and Atoms” is available here.

Metal-organic framework ultra-thin films

I studied self-assembly and growth of metal-organic framework (MOF) thin films with surface-sensitive tip-enhanced infrared nanoscopy (link). This novel method was applied to understand and improve the synthesis of MOF films.

Publication Record

Peer-reviewed (and ArXiv) Publications

* equally contributing authors

[1]          C. Toninelli, I. Gerhardt, A.S. Clark, A. Reserbat-Plantey, S. Götzinger, Z. Ristanovic, M. Colautti, P. Lombardi, K.D. Major, I. Deperasi?ska, W.H. Pernice, F.H.L. Koppens, B. Kozankiewicz, A. Gourdon, V. Sandoghdar, M. Orrit, “Single organic molecules for photonic quantum technologies,” Nat. Mater. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-00987-4

[2]          M. Colautti*, F. S. Piccioli*, Z. Ristanovic*, P. Lombardi, A. Moradi, S. Adhikari, B. Kozankiewicz, I. Deperasinska, M. Orrit, C. Toninelli, “Laser-Induced Frequency Tuning of Fourier-Limited Single-Molecule Emitters,” ACS Nano, vol. 14, no. 10, pp. 13584–13592, 2020.

[3]          A. Moradi*, Z. Ristanovic*, M. Orrit, I. Deperasinska, and B. Kozankiewicz, “Matrix-induced Linear Stark Effect of Single Dibenzoterrylene Molecules in 2,3-Dibromonaphthalene Crystal,” ChemPhysChem, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 55–61, 2019.

[4]          Z. Ristanovic, A. D. Chowdhury, R. Y. Brogaard, K. Houben, M. Baldus, J. Hofkens, M. B. J. Roeffaers, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Reversible and Site-Dependent Proton-Transfer in Zeolites Uncovered at the Single-Molecule Level,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 140, no. 43, pp. 14195–14205, Oct. 2018.

[5]          G. Delen*, Z. Ristanovic*, L. D. B. Mandemaker, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Mechanistic Insights into Growth of Surface-Mounted Metal-Organic Framework Films Resolved by Infrared (Nano-) Spectroscopy,” Chem. – Eur. J., vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 187–195, 2018.

[6]          F. C. Hendriks, S. Mohammadian, Z. Ristanovic, S. Kalirai, F. Meirer, E. T. C. Vogt, P. C. A. Bruijnincx, H. C. Gerritsen, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Integrated Transmission Electron and Single-Molecule Fluorescence Microscopy Correlates Reactivity with Ultrastructure in a Single Catalyst Particle,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 257–261, 2018.

[7]          D. Fu, J. E. Schmidt, Z. Ristanovic, A. D. Chowdhury, F. Meirer, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Highly Oriented Growth of Catalytically Active Zeolite ZSM-5 Films with a Broad Range of Si/Al Ratios,” Angew. Chem., vol. 129, no. 37, pp. 11369–11373, 2017.

[8]          F. C. Hendriks, F. Meirer, A. V. Kubarev, Z. Ristanovic, M. B. J. Roeffaers, E. T. C. Vogt, P. C. A. Bruijnincx, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Single-Molecule Fluorescence Microscopy Reveals Local Diffusion Coefficients in the Pore Network of an Individual Catalyst Particle,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 139, no. 39, pp. 13632–13635, Oct. 2017.

[9]          Z. Ristanovic, A. V. Kubarev, J. Hofkens, M. B. J. Roeffaers, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Single Molecule Nanospectroscopy Visualizes Proton-Transfer Processes within a Zeolite Crystal,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 138, no. 41, pp. 13586–13596, Oct. 2016.

[10]          Z. Ristanovic, J. P. Hofmann, M.-I. Richard, T. Jiang, G. A. Chahine, T. U. Schülli, F. Meirer, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “X-ray Excited Optical Fluorescence and Diffraction Imaging of Reactivity and Crystallinity in a Zeolite Crystal: Crystallography and Molecular Spectroscopy in One,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 55, no. 26, pp. 7496–7500, 2016.

[11]          S. C. C. Wiedemann, Z. Ristanovic, G. T. Whiting, V. R. Reddy?Marthala, J. Kärger, J. Weitkamp, B. Wels, P. C. A. Bruijnincx, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Large Ferrierite Crystals as Models for Catalyst Deactivation during Skeletal Isomerisation of Oleic Acid: Evidence for Pore Mouth Catalysis,” Chem. – Eur. J., vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 199–210, 2016.

[12]        Z. Ristanovic, J. P. Hofmann, G. De Cremer, A. V. Kubarev, M. Rohnke, F. Meirer, J. Hofkens, M. B. J. Roeffaers, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Quantitative 3D Fluorescence Imaging of Single Catalytic Turnovers Reveals Spatiotemporal Gradients in Reactivity of Zeolite H-ZSM-5 Crystals upon Steaming,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 137, no. 20, pp. 6559–6568, May 2015.

[13]        Z. Ristanovic, M. M. Kerssens, A. V. Kubarev, F. C. Hendriks, P. Dedecker, J. Hofkens, M. B. J. Roeffaers, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “High-Resolution Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging of Zeolite Aggregates within Real-Life Fluid Catalytic Cracking Particles,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 54, no. 6, pp. 1836–1840, 2015.

[14]        D. E. Perea, I. Arslan, J. Liu, Z. Ristanovic, L. Kovarik, B. W. Arey, J. A. Lercher, S. R. Bare, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Determining the location and nearest neighbours of aluminium in zeolites with atom probe tomography,” Nat. Commun., vol. 6, p. 7589, Jul. 2015.

[15]      Z. Ristanovic*, J. P. Hofmann*, U. Deka, T. U. Schülli, M. Rohnke, A. M. Beale, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Intergrowth Structure and Aluminium Zoning of a Zeolite ZSM-5 Crystal as Resolved by Synchrotron-Based Micro X-Ray Diffraction Imaging,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 52, no. 50, pp. 13382–13386, 2013.

[16]        D. Vasic, Z. Ristanovic, I. Pašti, and S. Mentus, “Systematic DFT-GGA study of hydrogen adsorption on transition metals,” Russ. J. Phys. Chem. A, vol. 85, no. 13, pp. 2373–2379, Dec. 2011.

Invited Highlight Articles

[17]        Z. Ristanovic and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Breakthroughs in Hard X-ray Diffraction: Towards a Multiscale Science Approach in Heterogeneous Catalysis,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 53, no. 33, pp. 8556–8558, 2014.

[18]        Z. Ristanovic, J. P. Hofmann, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Crystallographic Architecture of a Single Zeolite ZSM-5 Crystal,” ESRF Highlights, vol. 2014, pp. 106–107, 2014.

[19]        Z. Ristanovic and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Reactivity and Crystallography of a Single Zeolite Crystal Revealed by Monochromatic X-rays,” ESRF Highlights, vol. 2016, pp. 32–33, 2016.

Book Chapter

[20]        M. Filez*, Z. Ristanovic*, and B. M. Weckhuysen, “Micro-Spectroscopy to Interrogate Solid Catalysts at Work,” in Encyclopedia of Interfacial Chemistry, K. Wandelt, Ed. Oxford: Elsevier, 2018, pp. 304–320.

* equally contributing authors


Comments are closed.